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Android Security 101: How to Secure Your Data Connections & Browse the Web Safely « Android :: Gadget Hacks

from the wake of the Equifax data breach as well as also the 2016 US election, cybersecurity has become a significant issue for Americans. Unfortunately, anytime we use our devices, we are open to a cyber attack — especially when we browse the web. However, there are ways which we can make the idea harder for hackers as well as also data miners.

The biggest security weakness in your smartphone is actually its data connection — sadly, any device with always-on internet access will inherently carry risk. Although there are no foolproof methods, by using the following suggestions, you can better protect yourself via Russian hackers, big data, or even a nosey spouse.

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Step 1: Get a VPN

Perhaps the single best way to improve your defenses while browsing the web is actually to use a VPN. A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) offers two major security features: Encryption as well as also privacy.

By using a VPN, all your data is actually encrypted during transit. Think of the idea which way: Instead of driving your data in a regular car, the idea is actually currently traveling in an armored truck. the idea may move slower, although the idea will be a lot harder for someone to access the idea while the idea is actually traveling via your phone to whatever website you’re visiting.

The second feature which a VPN provides is actually privacy. Your IP address is actually equivalent to your mailing address at home. Similar to how the post office uses your mailing address to send letters, your IP address is actually used by your network to move packets (data) between your device as well as also the internet. Without a VPN, the idea is actually easy for someone to obtain the IP address of your device for a direct attack against your smartphone.

How a VPN works. Image by CyberGhost VPN/YouTube

VPNs create a secure tunnel between your Android device as well as also the server (or router) which provides the VPN service. which server acts as a buffer between you as well as also the internet. Imagine every time you send a letter, you give the idea to the mailman, who places the letter into another envelope marking the sender as himself. currently if someone comes across the letter, they might believe which the idea originated via the mailman as well as also not you.

VPN works the same way. Whenever you send data to the internet, the idea will go through a secure server first before heading out to the web, which marks the traffic as if the idea originated via the VPN server. currently if a packet is actually intercepted by a malicious entity, they won’t have your IP address, although the VPN’s instead.

There are many excellent VPN services on the Play Store, although our recommendation is actually NordVPN, as the idea provides a great balance of security as well as also speed. NordVPN uses the highest encryption method to protect your data as well as also has over 1,000 servers in 61 countries, allowing the idea to maintain fast speeds while doing so.

Its Android app is actually very simple as well as also straightforward. Once you open the app, create an account, as well as also log in, just select “Quick connect” via the main page. After confirming your choice on a system dialog, NordVPN will connect you to the nearest server with the lowest traffic, ensuring minimal loss of internet speed while using VPN protection.

NordVPN also incorporates a feature known as CyberSec, which provides additional protection by actively monitoring the websites you visit to protect against malware, ads, as well as also botnet (attacks which use your smartphone to attack different devices).

Step 2: Start Using a Password Manager

With so many different accounts, the idea’s hard to come up that has a unique as well as also creative password for each one. Unfortunately, weak passwords are one of the leading ways hackers access personal information. Whether your password is actually found through a brute-force attack or something like one of Yahoo’s data breaches, if you used the password on different sites, those accounts are currently compromised, too.

So the best practice is actually to use a different password for every account, as well as also to make sure those passwords are all random alphanumeric combinations which use special characters. However, obscure passwords like these are hard to memorize once, let alone for every internet account you have. Password managers solve which problem.

A not bad password should look something like which.

that has a password manager, you only need to memorize one password to access a database of all your different passwords. Whenever you create a brand new account, you use the password manager to generate a password, selecting via a range of criteria to both fit the requirements of the site as well as also make the most secure password possible. currently, whenever you enter which website or app, you can fill in your password by copying the idea via the database.

LastPass is actually one of the best password managers found on the Play Store. the idea is actually one of the only password managers which allows you to autofill your information. Not only is actually autofill convenient, although the idea also provides security via hackers. If a hacker gains access to your device, they may employ key logging, which records each key you press on your screen — although with autofill, there are no keys to log.

LastPass also stores the password database on your device, preventing the possibility of someone intercepting the idea if the idea was stored remotely. the idea also employs the highest encryption protocols to protect your database, as well as also allows the use of both two-factor authentication (using both a password as well as also temporary PIN code via text or e-mail) as well as also fingerprint authentication to protect your database better.

Step 3: Install a Secure Browser

Chrome is actually an excellent browser for its ease of use as well as also fast performance, although if you want to protect yourself via external threats, we recommend switching your default browser. Using a secure browser is actually important, because by default, most browsers try to balance security as well as also speed that has a heavy emphasis on speed. Browsers also accommodate corporations who wish to sell you advertisements. However, these accommodations can be used to harm you as well.

Cookies are tiny text files sent by web servers to help identify you as well as also personalize your experience on a web page. For example, the way Amazon as well as also eBay can recommend products is actually by use of cookies. However, these cookies can be altered to allow unauthorized access to your smartphone.

Websites employ trackers which monitor sites every time you view a page. These trackers report information to a server so companies have a better understanding of their customers. They are used to enhance the experience as well as also personalize your view (cookies are sometimes used as a tracker). However, they also can be used for malicious purposes.

Although you can manually disable cookies as well as also trackers in Chrome, there’s a browser which does which by default. For which reason, we recommend Firefox Focus.

With Firefox Focus, Mozilla has created a browser which focuses on security as well as also speed, although emphasizes security. Almost all trackers are blocked by default, with only ones which can disrupt the viewing of the web page allowed. Sites are also prevented via opening a malicious website in another tab without you knowing.

With all which blocking, the idea is actually one of the fastest browsers on the Play Store, since when the idea loads pages, the idea doesn’t have to load ads (which typically take some time). as well as also whenever you close Firefox Focus, the idea deletes all cookies as well as also your browsing history. So if you decide to look at more, um, Christmas gift ideas, you don’t have to worry about someone seeing your activities.

When using Firefox Focus, we also recommend switching the default search engine. With Firefox Focus open, tap the three vertical dots from the upper-right corner as well as also choose “Settings.” via there, scroll down to the Search section as well as also select the first option, then switch the idea to DuckDuckGo. DuckDuckGo is actually the only search engine on the list which doesn’t collect your search result information.

Step 4: Take Care of the Little Things

Beyond the apps we just discussed, we have a few more recommendations to improve internet security. The first is actually to use HTTPS as often as possible. Most common websites all will redirect you to the HTTPS style of their website, although if you happen upon a site without the idea, don’t enter Personally Identifiable Information.

HTTPS provides encrypted communication between your smartphone as well as also the website’s server. Although the encryption isn’t the highest level to ensure speed isn’t significantly reduced, the idea does provide some protection where HTTP offers none. A VPN addresses which by providing encryption which does employ the best standards currently available. However, using HTTPS is actually still not bad practice.

Note the “https” at the beginning of the URL.

Our second recommendation is actually to avoid using public Wi-Fi, as these are unsecured networks which are susceptible to cyber attacks. the idea can easily be used by a malicious agent to learn your IP address as well as also attack your device.

Public, unsecured networks can also be spoofed, which is actually when a hacker will create a fake Wi-Fi hotspot which shares the same SSID as the public Wi-Fi. Therefore, when you connect to the network, you believe you are using the public Wi-Fi, although actually are connected to a hacker’s machine sending all your data to them. Like the first recommendation, VPN provides protection, although the idea’s a not bad practice to follow.

Unsecured Wi-Fi networks won’t hold the lock icon next to them.

Finally, always be careful about the sites you visit. Try to stick to common websites instead of obscure ones. Avoid links to websites via individuals you don’t know, as well as also make sure you type website names correctly. A known tactic by hackers (called “phishing”) is actually registering a website name for common spelling errors associated that has a common website (e.g., “goggle.com”).

If you stumble on a phishing attempt, instead of going to the site you want, you’re directed to the hacker’s site, which can be designed to look exactly like the common one. You think you’re on the common website, so when you log in, you’re sending your user name as well as also password to the hacker.

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These recommendations will not completely prevent you via a cyber attack, although they’ll certainly go a long way. from the end, the goal is actually to safely browse the web while keeping your information as well as also history private. So whether you are scared of hackers or you don’t want your significant different to see your browsing history, these recommendations should provide a great start.

Cover image via Manuel/Pexels, screenshots by Jon Knight/Gadget Hacks

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